Many of us use padlocks to secure our possessions, particularly those kept outside the home. In many cases these things may be miles from home, boats at a marina, items stored at work or a club, the list could go on and on. We go to the trouble of padlocking these things because they are of value, in some cases great value, but how many of us know if the padlocks we’re using are up to the job we ask of them? In my experience as a Locksmith very few members of the general public have any idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the padlocks they purchase, merely equating larger with stronger, and purchasing a bigger lock where they feel there is a greater need for security. Up until recent times this strategy will have worked fairly well, but the rules are changing. Sadly, due to irresponsible publishing on inter net web sites, the criminal fraternity has been able to learn how to defeat poor quality padlocks, also whatever type of padlock used, it is only as good as the item it’s attached to,( ie a chain, or hasp,or deadbolt.) I have written this article to point out common padlock weaknesses, and enable the reader to select padlocks that will give the protection required. padlock seals
Padlocks fall into 3 broad categories, those with cylinder lock mechanisms, those with lever lock mechanisms, and those with combination lock mechanisms. Firstly some weaknesses common to all three types of padlock. Many poorer quality padlocks can be opened without even picking the lock, this is known as bypassing and ‘no’ I am not going to describe how it is done, just be aware that as someone who knows how, I can bypass a poor quality padlock quicker than opening it with the key!.The ‘shackle’ is the part of the padlock that is released when the lock is opened, it’s often ‘u’ shaped and is passed through the links of a chain or the eye of a hasp. It is this part of the padlock that comes under attack from a thief who knows nothing of lock picking. The shackle of an inferior padlock can be sawn off or even cut off easily.
Better quality locks have specially hardened steel shackles,this steel will blunt the teeth of a saw blade, and will resist all but the largest of cutters. Nearly all the better quality padlocks have further protection for the shackle usually in the form of raised shoulders to make access difficult. The last common weakness is not in the locks themselves but in the items the locks get attached to. If chaining up a trailer or a boat, the chain and whatever the item is being chained to need to be just as strong as the lock,(ie welded link hardened steel chain thick enough to withstand attempts with cutters.) If using a hasp,say for a shed or garage,this too should be of hardened steel, bolted through the door with tamper proof bolts and large washers on the inside before the nuts.